Americans doing Business in China – Part 1/16

February 21, 2012

Before I started putting this series of posts together, I read an ABC News piece by Bill Weir on “A Trip to the iFactory: ‘Nightline’ Gets an Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Apple’s Chinese Core” — (Note: clever play on words.)

Weir’s piece is a long one but there are some telling points I’m going to share before I launch into a series of guest posts from an American that did business in China successfully for a number of years. Each one of these guest posts stands alone but provides a glimpse into another person’s experience doing business in China.

However, in 2010, Apple was crucified in the Western media due to a number of suicide at Foxconn, which is the Taiwan owned company that assembles/manufactures about 90 percent of Apple’s products. If you were not aware of it before, many Taiwanese do business in China and Foxconn is an example.

In his piece, Weir said, “They (the suicides) went up during a three-month span in the spring of 2010, when nine Foxconn workers jumped to their deaths. A total of 18 Foxconn employees took their own lives, or tried to, in recent years and given the company’s massive size, it is a suicide rate well below China’s national average. But when people started jumping in a cluster, Woo tells me that Tim Cook rallied a team of psychiatric experts for advice. They suggested nets, on the chance it might save impulsive jumpers.

“But Foxconn wasn’t Apple’s only problem. The company says they stopped a supplier named Wintek from using a toxic chemical to clean iPhone screens after 137 workers were injured…

“Apple says they have been ordering audits of its suppliers since 2006, and since 2007 have been publishing the sometimes disturbing results…

“It is a Monday after a Chinese holiday, and since many overworked migrants will just stay home, the people who lined up before dawn know that the chances of getting an assembly line job are better than average. And in a country of 1.3 billion, where jobs are scarce, getting there first matters; especially for their families back in the village, where most of their paycheck will end up…

“Starting salary is around $285 a month or $1.78 an hour. And even with the maximum 80 hours of overtime a month, the Chinese government considers them too poor to withdraw any payroll taxes…

“We mostly found people who face their days through soul-crushing boredom and deep fatigue. Some complained of being overworked, others complained of being under worked and almost all said they were underpaid…

“We do have labor unions at Foxconn … but it’s not a freely elected labor union yet. I expect to see that in the next year or two, they will become more like a collective bargaining union, and they will be freely elected. In fact, I see that some legislations in more progressive provinces (of China) would require labor unions to be sitting on the board of companies…”

The exclusive full report from ABC’s “Nightline” will air Tuesday, February 21 at 11:35 p.m. US ET/PT. This link to Hulu is where much of the full episodes of “Nightline” are posted for online streaming the day after the original broadcast.

Continued February 22, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 2 (a guest post)

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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STEEL (no, not steal) FROM CHINA – Part 1/2

November 24, 2011

I read a post over at So Far From Heaven.com (a blog — not Hades) about US dependence on China for steel.

As usual, when I read a claim and/or complaint of China, I research to see if the complaint holds water.

What I discovered was another leaky myth — the type often generated and spread by Sinophobes in the US.

So Far From Heaven complained the quality of tools in the United States was because of Chinese steel, which, I discovered, has nothing to do with steel produced in China, but more to do with capitalism/consumerism and planned obsolescence.

Britannica.com explains, “This term was supposedly coined after World War II by American industrial designers and writers to indicate industry’s desire to produce consumer items that would be replaced…”

For example, if a US company wants it’s tools to wear out within a specific time frame, the company’s designers and engineers are told to come up with products that will wear out faster needing to be replaced sooner, which boosts profits for the company. That’s what the US calls capitalism 101.

In addition, since most products manufactured in China for the US market are ordered by American companies such as Wal-Mart, Apple, Home Depot and Lowe’s, the contracts often specify exactly how the product is to be manufactured, and the American side of the manufacturing equation decides the quality and life span of the product. If you want to learn more about this process, I suggest visiting the China Law Blog to discover how it works.

In short, if the Chinese factory owners/managers complain, the US company takes the contract to someone that will do what they are told and do it for less.

To discover if the US depends on Chinese produced steel for manufacturing products sold to US consumers, I spent more time Googling (research).

Continued on November 25, 2011 in STEEL (no, not steal) FROM CHINA – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Roughed Up

February 23, 2010

“The police arrived, the guards apologized, and the reporter left without filing charges. Then the policeman told the reporter, ‘You’re free to do what you want, but this is Foxconn and they have a special status here. Please understand.'” So wrote Michael Grothaus for an RSS feed in a piece about “A Reuters employee who was investigating Apple’s legendary secrecy visited Foxconn’s walled city-like facility in Guanlan, China, and was reportedly roughed up by security.”

iPod

Well, yea. The competition is fierce in China for lucrative contracts.  If Foxconn has a contract with Apple and that company loses the contract amounting to millions if not billions of American dollars, it makes sense that their security would be tough on any suspected industrial, high-tech spy. Their jobs even with low pay and long hours are better than no job and poverty. Why put up with a snoop?

If the Foxconn security didn’t take the job seriously, Apple might take their business to another country. How many people would have lost their jobs if that happened?

holding a cup of hot coffee

Consider that China has one lawyer for every 13,000 people compared to the United States, The Litigation Nation, with more lawyers than any other country—one for every two-hundred and sixty-five people and spilling hot coffee on yourself is grounds for going to court.

See Doing Business in China

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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